After reading many posts on here, I finally have something to talk about....
I have exactly three batches under my belt and decided to make the leap to all-grain sooner rather than later.
So, I made my first attempt at all-grain with BIAB this weekend since I have not finished getting my MT/HLT assembled. I was a little hesitant at first, since my set up is a 5500W electric keggle with a PID controller and I haven't seen anyone mention BIAB with this kind of equipment. I couldn't figure out how to keep the bag from hitting the heating element. I ended up going with a stainless rack bent to form a "tent" over the element and figured it would do the trick. After figuring that out, I went to the store searching for fabric to make the bag. A few lessons from my wife on the sewing machine and three hours later I had a bag. After struggling to sew a round bottom on my bag, I have a lot more respect for anyone who has mastered that mystical black art. My recipe was a Fat Tire clone with 10.5 lbs of grain. After reading a lot, I decided to run my grain through my LHBS grain mill twice to try and get the efficency up a little.
I used the calculators in BrewLogger to figure out my water volumes, added it all to the keg, and set the temp control to the calculated strike temp to reach a 152F mash temp. I then cafefully added the grain, stirring like crazy. I ended up hitiing 151F (not too bad I thought), and let the controller maintain my temp for an hour with no lid (don't have one that fits very well), stirring every 10 min or so. A few stirs in I suddenly saw the temp rise to 160 and realized the grain bag was trapping the water around the heating element. So I quickly, pulled the bag up a few inches and stirred the mash water around to even things out. Got the temp back under control and finished the mash according to plan. After an hour, I raised the bag up with the aid of an eye bolt in my porch ceiling to begin draining. I switched the controller to manual and 100% power to get the boil started. The bag was almost completly drained in about 15min. Then I took it out and hung it over a bucket from the garage door.
From then on it was just a normal brew session. Well my counter flow chiller clogged, but that was over come with a squeeze bulb on the outlet. I did notice there was more trub in the keg after draining, but the wort in the fermneter looked as clear as ever. I ended up with a SG of 1.050 for a target of 1.052 and an efficency of 70%. All in all, it was a great experience and my mash/lauter tun plans are on hold for now.
There are a few improvements I am thinking about making before the next brew:
Definately getting a lid when I find one that fits, switching to stainless immersion chiller and pump to recirc ice water through it, and possibly a pump to recirc from around the heating element to the top of the grain to prevent the temperature swing.
Sorry for such a long first post, but I wanted to explain as much as I could and see if anyone sees anything else I might need to look at? Thanks for sharing your hard learned knowledge with a noob.